Africa News Roundup: Eid and Boko Haram, Northern Mali, Chad and China, and More

Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid al Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, this Sunday. In Northern Nigeria, authorities are bracing themselves for possible attacks by the rebel sect Boko Haram:

A centuries-old Eid festival in the major northern city of Kano, famed for its elaborate horse pageant, has been cancelled, officially due to the local emir’s health, but residents suspected the worsening violence was to blame.

In the volatile central city of Jos, authorities declared off-limits two main prayer grounds that have been hit by violence in the past over security concerns, but said alternative locations were available.

The authorities’ moves were an indication of how badly security has deteriorated in northern and central Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths since 2010.

Nigeria’s national police chief urged the public to share tips with officers, something many people have been reluctant to do out of fear of both Boko Haram and the authorities, who have been accused of abuses.

The warning message from the US Embassy in Abuja is here.

The Washington Post reports on Boko Haram’s efforts to gain a foothold in towns along the Nigeria-Niger border. An interesting article, although as regular readers know I think the “tolerant Sufis versus militant fundamentalists” line is simplistic.

In other Nigeria news, Shell “said on Friday it had contained oil leaked from a failed pump within a flowstation on Nigeria’s Nembe Creek though local residents disputed this, saying it had spread to mangrove swamps.”


Observers of Somalia’s political transition process say the final political benchmarks to end the transition, including the election of a new president, will not be met by the August 20 deadline.  An arbitration committee working to solve clan disputes on how to share parliamentary seats is yet to reach agreement. Some reports also say the technical selection committee working to screen and approve members of the next parliament objects to some of the candidates put forward.

The numbers out of northern Mali are grim and getting worse: over 435,000 people displaced, and 4.6 million hungry.

Patriarch Abune Paulos of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church passed away on Thursday.

China delivered food aid to Chad this week, marking the occasion with a ceremony on Monday (French).

Presidents Alassane Ouattara and Idriss Deby met in Mecca (French), where they discussed Mali and other matters.

IRIN writes that education in the Sahel is “in crisis.”

What else is happening?

Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: Ethiopia and Water, Chad and Sudan, African Business

Anna Kramer on water shortages in Ethiopia:

I visited Ketele Pond on my trip to southern Ethiopia eight months ago. The pond was wide and flat, softened at the edges, a shallow bowl reflecting the pale afternoon sky. It’s nothing impressive to look at, until you realize that it’s the only clean drinking water source for thousands of families in this remote area. Ketele is in fact partly man-made, shored up by local aid groups in an effort to protect the water supply during the dry season.

When we opened the photos attached to the email, one of my Boston colleagues, who was with me on the trip, gasped as though in pain. Ketele’s water had bled out, thick and red-tinged like the rust-colored soil. The pond itself was a puddle: shrunken, diminished.

On the shores of Ketele, I saw dozens of women and girls carrying yellow, 40-gallon plastic jugs. Some laughed as they scooped up water, tying the jugs to the backs of donkeys or to their own backs, getting ready for the hours-long journey back to their home villages. These jugs held their families’ water supply for the day — their only water for drinking, cooking, and a dozen other essential tasks.

I don’t know what those girls and their families are doing now that Ketele is gone.

Jane Smith updates us on relations between Chad and Sudan:

January’s rapprochement between Chad and Sudan was genuine, and may well last. After all, as long term allies (Deby launched his takeover of Chad in 1990 from inside Darfur), it makes perfect sense for them to want to stabilise the situation. Neither of them is capable of fully controlling the desert border regions, as the Darfur conflict and displacements in eastern Chad have attested. After a surprisingly peaceful passing of April’s election, Bashir would be risking much by renewing his support to the Chadian rebels. Likewise, Deby’s message to JEM was unequivocal – after the January agreement he despatched a team to the area around the Oure Cassoni refugee camp near Bahai in the far north east, and told JEM to get out of Chadian territory.

US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration and the Sudan Assessment and Evaluation Commission give a report on how implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is progressing.

Loomnie has a links roundup on Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua’s death.

Roving Bandit on ethnic grievances and civil war.

Matthew Tostevin on African business: “African business leaders are much more optimistic than the global average.”

The Mezze points us to a documentary on Mecca.

Chris Blattman has some useful tips for international air travel.

Texas in Africa on savior vs. empowerment paradigms in international development.

And on a lighter note, click through for a video on skateboarding in Uganda.